Nearly seven years ago, my friend Jill invited me to a women’s retreat in Bend, Oregon.
Bo Stern, a gifted pastor/teacher would be speaking during the weekend getaway.
Bo also happens to be the sister of another of my dear friends, Cheryl.
I love when worlds collide.
I was in complete need of time away.
It couldn’t have been more perfect for me to hitch a ride with Cheryl and her other sister Lila.
At any given time during the course of our days, the thought of getting away from the daily grind
This such time defied that description.
Our family was in the midst of a life crash.
In fact, we didn’t know that over the course of the next 5+ years, the crashes wouldn’t diminish or end.
Our life was seemingly hit from every side.
First there was the sudden death of Carl’s mom, followed by the very real life or death battle for one of our children,
there was my über healthy dad being lifted by helicopter for open heart surgery and
the passing of my three beloved grandparents.
There was more fallout from those days.
In fact, one day I made a list of all the many waves which crashed on our shore during that
hard place in time.
I needed a retreat.
I wanted to retreat.
No sooner had I reached what I thought was the safe haven of Bend when I received a phone call
from the homeland telling me that all was not right.
A time out from reality felt like trying to hold sand in my hand.
But Jill held my hand and kept me upright and we entered into this big beautiful women’s retreat.
I don’t remember a lot of that weekend, but two parts were vivid.
The first was Saturday morning.
What is it with Saturday mornings at retreats?
At one point, Bo spoke of our identities and not to believe the lies of the enemy.
She ended the session by listing the names we might be prone to calling ourselves.
There were a few I could have worn as a name tag but when she
whispered one label, I was undone.
I ended up outside on a bench.
Cheryl sat with me with as I cried without sound and murmured that I had no words.
She echoed, she had none either.
The second was at retreat end.
I remember Bo.
I remember her looking exhausted.
No, perhaps a better description would be emptied out.
She had ladled out truth from a life saturated by Spirit so others (like me) could walk
away engulfed with hope.
I remember watching as she and her husband Steve drove away in a cute little car,
ready to spend some time away.
That weekend marked a time when I was in a fierce battle.
I am thankful I had many to walk with as I have named a few in this post.
I am grateful I learned to lean heavily on His Word as my necessary food.
In the last couple years I have thought often about gazing at Bo and Steve as they drove away that Sunday so many years ago.
They couldn’t have known the road that their lives would one day travel.
They were unaware of the battle they would face.
It has been two years since Steve was diagnosed with ALS or more widely known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Bo and Steve, their family, friends and loved ones are linked in a very real battle.
Many people face battles.
Some take the white knuckles approach and hope they will survive.
Bo and Steve are not retreating from this battle.
They are on the front lines battling this disease but also confidently proclaiming
the battle as God’s.
Their hands are gripped tightly on joy in the midst of suffering and hope despite unknowns.
Bo has emptied her battlefield experiences onto the pages of her new book, Beautiful Battlefields.
No different from the retreat all those years ago, she ladles out truth, compassion, humor, and hope.
She shares what she has gained from this battle and helps you to wage war with joy in your own battles.
I would have loved to have kept this book on my nightstand during our intense time of hardship.
As I have hovered over each page, I have felt myself nod with agreement at gold I too
found on my battlefield.
I have also found fresh insights into the heart of God for His people.
Today you or someone you know may be sitting on a bench,
undone by a battle being waged,
there may not be adequate words.
I am so thankful that God has helped Bo pen words to
provide courage and hope in navigating the landmines found
on the battlefield.
Because only God could make a battlefield beautiful.
When you look at Bo and Steve, you see hard-fought for beauty.
That’s the goal, my friends.
Beautiful Battlefields officially releases February 15th.
Read a sample chapter here.
Read Bo’s blog here.